Saturday, November 16, 2013

From Catalonia to Australia

Swimming in the Tasman Sea

Marc is basically a swimmer and a surfer. Sport is an inherent part of his way of living. He moved to the seaside of Australia following his dream of having a calm, joyful life by the ocean, 
with its waves and sharks.

Name: Marc Pasqués
Age:    25
From: Barcelona
To:     Sydney
For:    Sport and work

1. Why Australia?

"I was thinking about moving from Barcelona in search of work, but the professional sport (swimming and surf) is also important for me. With these two variables, Australia is the place to be."


2. Your motivation for changing country.

"In Barcelona it has been pretty difficult to find a job, any job. Especially if you want to work in what you have studied… that’s an impossible mission! So let’s say that the job seeking was the main reason. At the same time I wanted to grow in my sportive career."

3. The most exciting thing about the city of Sydney.

"The ocean, the people, the life… the good life… the easy life!"

 4. The citizens of the city in 3 words.

"Easy going, close and helpful."

5. What do you see from your window?

"The beach, the Tasman Sea."

6. The most difficult thing to get used to in your new city.

"Being 17.000km away from my family."

7. What do you miss the most from Spain?

"My family, no doubt. And some friends of course!"

8. Your new habbit.

"The take away coffee, to wake up at 4.15am, the cider instead of beer…"

A reason why it worths waking up so early

9. Something new you found out about Australia.

"It’s pretty difficult to find an Australian here!! There’s a lot of Asian people!"

10. The experience of swimming in Australia. 

"Probably in Europe we have better pools… but the top ocean swimmers are here. There’s a great competitive and friendly atmosphere, and I have the chance to train with the top athletes of the world!"

11. The main reason you would choose to stay permanently in this country.

"It’s easy… I mean, it’s easy to live here. Life is focused on enjoying it, who wouldn’t like it?!"

12. Your furthest dream or future plan.

"I want to focus on my sport career the next few years. I would like to achieve my best results then, but at the same time I want to settle down in Australia."

13.  Your personal definition of “home”.

"I’ve been in so many places around the world. In few occasions I have felt that I was at home, but some years later I went back there and I saw that those places were not my home at all… why? Because I was missing the people with whom I enjoyed that place before. So for me, home is where I’m surrounded by those who I call family and friends, and where I can be myself."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Matilda in Disneyland

Working as an adult, feeling like a kid

And if one asked you which would be a dream(y) job, 
wouldn’t working in Disneyland be a good answer?

Name:  Matilda
Age:     24
From:  Athens, Greece
To:      Paris, Disneyland
For:     Work

1. How did you learn about this job opportunity?

“A friend of mine saw the job on the Internet and sent me the link, as he knew I love traveling. Then I applied online and a few days later they asked me for an interview. Some weeks later, they asked me to go in France and work in Disneyland. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it, everything happened very quickly.”

2. How long did it last and where did you stay?

“I had a long-term contract that lasted 7 months, from April to October. They offered me a house next to Disneyland. There were more houses around for all the employees of Disneyland. The house was really nice and new but also empty. From the first week, with my roommate and best friend there. Manuela, we decorated it step by step and it became as if it had been our home for ages.”

3. The view from your window.

“There were two big windows in my room… From the first I could see many trees and flowers. From the other I could see the kitchen of my crazy Italian friends; Mark, Alessandro and Gianluca. From both windows I could see people passing by, and sometimes there were crazy parties happening outside my window - it was fun!”

4. What were your “duties”?

“I was working in a boutique called" Emporium", the biggest one in Main Street, in Disneyland.  I was working as "conseil vente" that means advising the guests- coming from all around the world- about the products, helping them to find what they want. I was also arranging the boutique so that the boutique was always in a good condition. In addition, with my colleagues we were making lists about the products that were consumed during the day, so that next morning the boutique was full. We were also doing sales and there were many competitions between all the colleagues and between the other boutiques about who sold more. The competitions were also about quality; that means how good we were treating the guests.”

5. The atmosphere in Disneyland.

“For a visitor the atmosphere in Disneyland is magic. All the shops and the restaurants are built in a way that make you feel that you live in the most romantic period of time. The music all around Disneyland makes you feel so relaxed and you forget all of your problems. The attractions in the park make you feel like you become a kid aigain and the enthusiasm is so big that you're smiling all day long; just because you feel great. You feel you can't wait to go to one more attraction, to eat candies, chocolates, popcorn and of course the sweet apple candy.  In Disneyland people become a family, no matter the age, no matter which place of the world they come from. Meeting all your favourite Disney cartoons, bring you back in childhood when everyone was pure and happy. During work it’s of course difficult to feel relaxed and enjoy everything, but still, you get the feeling.”


   6. The staff and your company there.

“Millions people coming from all over the world and from all ages (you can't work if you are under 18 years old) work in Disneyland. In the boutique where I worked, we were around 50 employers. When I arrived I was told that I was the only Greek working there. At the beginning I was stressed about that, but then I got used to it and I really enjoyed working with people from Italy, Portugal, France... Almost all the Italian girls, some French people, one girl from Poland, one girl from Germany became my family there. We had so much fun together, working or not, we laughed a lot -even if there were some really taugh days at work-, and talked about everything. We had a really good communication and they also learned some Greek words!”

7. The best thing about this job.

“First of all, the fact that this job gave me the opportunity to work abroad. Working abroad makes you feel more independent, freer... Then, the fact that during this period I was every day in contact with thousands of people from all over the world. I love to communicate with people and help them have a good day in Disneyland. In addition, I worked with people who didn't speak my language, so I had the chance to practice my English, French and Spanish... What I also loved about this job is that I realized how people can be so different. There were many rude, not smiling people and others who were very polite and simply happy! If will not forget some of the last ones.”

8. A more difficult aspect of it…

“There were days especially during June, July and August that there were too many people coming in the boutique and I was feeling like I can’t breath... The one after the other were asking me questions about everything; about the products but also general information about the park, the way back to their hotel etc; and I had to be always patient, polite and helping them about everything in English, French or Spanish. Helping them was a really nice feeling but at the same time I was feeling exhausted.”

9. How did you spend your non-working days.

“Well, if my working days were good , my non-working days were great! The good thing was that my days off were Saturday and Sunday… The same for my best friends at work and my roommate Manuela. So, we were always planning our schedule together. We were always ending our week with a drink at "Billy bob's bar" in Disneyland, and then continuing the night at home all together. Then, Saturday afternoon we were meeting each other at the train station to spend all the day in Paris... Making a walk in "Marrais', then having a beer in St. Germain or a wine in Seine, or in a small corner next to the Eiffel tower, and then eating Italian pizza or tartar in these beautiful small restaurants in the centre of Paris. We used to spend our Sunday in a museum or in an art gallery somewhere in Montmartre and then ending the day by walking many kilometers in the city. Some Sundays we had pic-nics in "jardins du Luxembourg" or by the lake next to our home. At lazy days we used to cook all together at home or organize little parties. My non-working days were always ending with me and my roommate Manuela, lying on the bed and laughing about little or more important things that happened during our weekend.”

 10. Disneyland in 3 words.

“magic, adventure, freedom”

11. Your favourite place/game in Disneyland.

Space Mountain, Buzz Ligtyear, Rock n’Roaller Coaster, Tower of Terror and Nemo in Disney’s Studios. I loved them and I was going very often with my colleagues or with friends that visited me from Greece.”

12. What people do not know about Disneyland

“People may not often think that Disneyland is not just a huge park of entertainment. It’s a huge company with people working for every detail of the park.”

13. Images you do not get to see anywhere else…

“People laughing from their hearts, forgetting their problems back in their homes… and of course that atmoesphere… with music and fireworks all over the park.”

14. A strong memory…

“So many memories! It’s hard to choose one... I remember a little girl with “down syndrome” who wanted the dress of a princess but we didn’t have it in her size. So, she started crying and I called all the boutiques in the park and finally found it in another shop. When I gave it to her she seemed really happy and I felt happy too. It was the thing I loved more in this work: helping people to be happy, even if it is for a small thing... A strong memory is also our last dinner in New York Hotel in Disneyland with all my colleagues, team leaders and manager , to say goodbye. There were mixed feelings after 7 months we spent all together. We had such a good time this night!”

15. What you will keep forever from this experience.

“The friends I made and all our crazy moments together at work, but also at home and during our weekends in Paris. They were a second family for me; I will always remember that feeling of freedom when you are thousand kilometers away from home.”


Friday, November 1, 2013

Greek Kindergarten Teacher in Stockholm

Working with children in Sweden

Having studied, lived and worked in a greek island, Rhodes, 
Stella decided to transfer her life in a different country. 
This is the way she found to combine two of her greatest loves: children and travelling.

Name:  Papalexi Stella
Age:    24
From:  Athens, Greece
To:      Stockholm, Sweden
For:    Work (kindergarten teacher)

1. Why Sweden?

"I had done a project to my college about the educational system in Sweden and I really wanted to be a part of it. Furthermore, the opportunities in Sweden are more than in Greece and the quality of life is better."

2. Your life before your decision to live.

"I was leaving in a greek island and I was working as a kindergarten teacher but I was feeling stuck. The economical crisis doesn’t let you to be financial independent and do more things as well like travelling."

3. How easy was to find a job in Sweden
Were there any bureaucratic difficulties?

"It is not easy at all to find a job in Sweden. It is really essential to speak Swedish. There are few jobs that you can do speaking only English. I am lucky because as a kindergarten teacher I can work in English schools or in families with bilingual children. 
To register as a Swedish citizen you have to get the Personal Number. This is the most important thing to have rights in Sweden. Without that number you can’t study Swedish in the public school for foreigners called SFI (Svenska For Invandrare ) which means Swedish For Immigrants. Then without Swedish you can’t get a job and without a job you can’t get the personal number, your Swedish identity. It is a circle and imagine for EU citizens is easier to get the number. That’s why the most of the greek people here they work in cleaning companies as cleaners and the most of these companies are greek. It is hard but admirable as well when you meet people in the same age with you, with bachelors and masters, who need to do that job until to learn Swedish. When you get the decision to emigrate you have to be ready to face everything and start from the beginning."

"Oxi" day
4. The working environment.

"I work as an Au Pair here which means that I live with a family and I help them with their children. I have free accommodation and food and a salary.  I help them in their everyday life, I help the children in their English and greek lessons and I talk to them in greek because their mother comes from Greece and she wants them to speak in greek as well. At the same time I study Swedish for kindergarten teachers in SIFA program which is the same with SFI but for academics and they focus to each labour sector. What is more I work as a kindergarten teacher on Saturdays to the greek school."


5. Your favourite activities with the children.

"We like very much to cook together. We play football, basketball and games on the board."

6. The Greek community in the city.

"There are three greek communities in Stockholm and two greek schools."

7. The most difficult thing to get used to in Stockholm.

"The most difficult thing is the cold and the dark during the winter."

School's 90th anniversary
8. The most extra-ordinary thing about Sweden.

"The sun goes down at one o’ clock at night during the summer."

9. How easy was to find a place to stay? Is there relevant state welfare?

"When I first came here I stayed in a city two hours way from Stockholm in a house I had found when I was in Greece. In Stockholm the biggest problem is the accommodation. There are no apartments to stay and the most of the citizens stay in second hand apartments. That means that someone who has an apartment and will be away for some months or year, rent the apartment to someone else. This is illegal but is the only way to find accommodation. In addition the person who needs the apartment knows that in some months has to look for another one. In Stockholm the prices for rents are really expensive even to the “low” areas but if you want to live here you don’t have any choise. It is very common to have a roommate or to rent just a room in someone else’s apartment."

10. What do you see from your window?

"I see the back side of the house that I live, a big beautiful garden."

11. The people of the city in 3 words.

"Kind, limited and moody."

12. The best thing to do alone in the city.

"Walking in Gamla Stan or in Slussen by the port."

13. The Swedish food.

"They use a lot of crème in their food  and they eat a lot of salmon. Their food in general is not very interesting but it’s nice. They have really tasty sweets and nice chocolate .The children are allowed to eat sweets only on Saturdays."

14. What is exceptional about the Swedish educational system, on the degree you have experienced it.

Learning the alphabet
"It is more organized than in Greece. They are more careful in keeping a clean environment for the kids and those are more free in school. They try for the children to be more in contact with the nature and whichever the weather conditions are, they will play outside. They give rights to well education to everyone. At the high school the students learn to cook, to build and to make or fix things and furnitures for the house. They prepare the children for their life and they do not stress them about what they are going to do with their future."

15. Your thoughts about going back to Greece.

"Even if your life is better in another place than it was  before, you always miss your country. Your family, your friends, the place, the smells... I have in mind that I will return but first I want to experience different things and unfortunately Greece doesn’t give you the chance right now."

16. The most important lesson you have learned by living abroad.

"The most important lesson for me is the help that people gave me without knowing me. There is a connection between emigrants. The old generation of Greek emigrants help a lot the new one. The new ones help each other. We feel sympathy for each other and this is a way to say thank you."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

From Bulgaria to the Netherlands


Bozhan is building up his life in his new geographical basis. With enthusiasm and optimism. 

Name:  Bozhan Chipev
Age:     25
From:   Sofia, Bulgaria
To:       Amsterdam, the Netherlands
For:      Master in New Media

1. Why Amsterdam?

“I came to do my Master’s degree in Amsterdam, because it’s the best education in terms of value-for-money. It is cheaper than the UK, and better than in the Scandinavian countries, at least in the field of New Media.”

Balcony view

2. Your academic interest.

“My academic background is quite diverse – I completed a dual BA degree at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) with Journalism and Mass Communications as one major and Political Science and International Relations as the second. After graduating I ended up spending a year as a junior reporter in a large print and web media outlet in Bulgaria, which sparked my interest in technology and new media.

3. The hardest thing to get used to in the new city.

“Nothing has really been hard, as people in Amsterdam are very accustomed to foreigners and communicating in English with them. Perhaps the toughest part is dealing with the government administration, and especially the tax authorities, who are forbidden by law to communicate in a language other than Dutch.”

4. People of the city in 3 words.

“Tolerant. Direct. Biking.”

5. What you miss the most from your country.

“Life is easier close to home. There are all kinds of safety nets – friends, family, less bureaucracy. Maybe what I miss the most is the sense of belonging, the feeling that I’m at home, and not in a foreign country. Because as open and tolerant as Amsterdammers are, they can often make you feel as an outsider, even if it’s not on purpose.”

6. Your new habit.

“Oh, there are so many of those. Biking is the main one, but also having only bread and cheese for lunch, or always carrying an emergency jacket in case of unexpected torrential rain.”

7. What do you find the most impressive thing about the Dutch culture.

“The fact that they are literraly conquering land from the ocean and creating new space from themselves out of nothing. The Dutch singlehandedly invalidated one of the many emblematic Mark Twain quotes: "Buy land, they're not making it anymore".”

8. Your career plan.

“I’m currently working in Marketing for a German startup company based off of the RockStart accelerator in Amsterdam. The plan is to continue getting experience in the field. Ideally, I would like to travel and work/live in different places around the world, but if I “only” get to stay in Amsterdam, I will be a happy man.”

9. Your thoughts about going back home.

“Although I realise that Bulgaria needs all the Western-educated young people it can get in order to improve the socio-economic situation in the country, I would rather continue my life and work abroad.”

10. Your furthest dream.

“My most far-fetched dream is to start an online business that can be headquartered anywhere (or nowhere), allowing me to both make a good living and not rooting me to one particular city or country.”

11. What you will keep forever after Amsterdam.

“The skill to ride a bike in heavy rain and wind while holding an open umbrella. If I ever learn it, that is.”

Young Dentist in Wales

Setting up a new life in UK

 Romina is a dentist who has just started her career. She took the decision of  moving in Wales to build the foundations on which she can base the start of her life. Until her return in Greece, 
she explores the English culture and landscapes.

Name:  Romina Gkioni
Age:     26
From:   Piraeus
To:       Barmouth, Wales
For:     Work and Studies

Caernarfon, Wales

1. Why Wales?

“I found a very good work offer there. I went for the interview, liked the place and some months later moved in. Quite simple. UK generally was the goal. Wales was just good luck.”

2. Your decision to leave Greece.

“It was not easy but it was something that I've been thinking for many years. I was at the second year at University when I first heard about what UK offers to young dentists. Very good working opportunities as well as a lot of different options for postgraduate studies. It's not simple to leave your home and everything that you knew until now behind, but in life you need to try for the best. The crisis made it much easier to take  the decision of course...”

3. The first difficulty you confronted after you left.

“Bureaucracy!!! You may not believe it but it seems worse than ours.
And the language which is much different from the English that are taught in Greece.”

4. The hardest thing to get used to in the new city.

“That you are different from the others. And this is not common here because it's a small city and population is only Welsh and English people.  We are a small minority here.”

5. What do you see from your window.

“Trees and after that the ocean! I love it!”

Window view

6. People in the city in 3 words 

“kind, smiling, helpful”

7. The best thing to do when it’s sunshine.

“Explore different aspects of this beautiful country!”

8. The best thing to do at night.

“Stay at home and watch a movie. There is not much to do outside.”

9. Your impression about working as a dentist in England.

“It is nice. It's just a different approach to the same thing. People here have different needs than people in Greece. It is interesting, you have the chance to work with many patients and gain a lot of experience something that is not easy any more for young dentists in Greece.”

10. Your new habit.


11. Your thoughts about going back to Greece.

“That's something I am really looking forward to. It's really nice here but there is no place like home. One day...”

12. How the Greek crisis affects your life in England.

“It really didn't. People ask us about the crisis sometimes but quite typically, to tell the truth, they don't really care. The only way in which the crisis made our lives different is that we meet Greeks all the time everywhere around the UK!!”

13. Your furthest dream.

“Live in Greece, have a family, be surrounded by people I love, in a society that has finally found it's way, have a job that enables me to cover my needs and… travel a lot.”

14. Your definition of “home”.

“Home is where you feel safe, where you can be happy and most of all where the people that you love are.”